TED Fellow, Artist, Composer
Usman Riaz is an artist and Pakistani musician making a worldwide mark with his astonishing and fun-to-listen-to technique. Influenced by percussive guitarists — who move beyond strumming to striking, treating their fret board like the soundboard of a piano — he makes a sound that feels larger than the instrument itself, with a compelling pattern of repetition and variation that harkens to mystical music traditions.
In 2011, a viral video for his song “Fire Fly” helped bring his sound from the small-but-thriving Pakistani music community to a global audience. He has also collaborated with other musicians in Pakistan and worked on an album of original music.
Currently directing Pakistan’s first hand-drawn animated film The Glassworker (funded by supporters through Kickstarter) through Mano Animation Studios which he leads, Usman is working with a team of talented animators from his home country, UK, South Africa and Malaysia.
Usman continues to be the youngest TED Senior Fellow and is a current pupil of Berklee College of Music.